TV: Living with Yourself (Season 1)

Netflix’s new series Living with Yourself probably sold itself on the pitch alone. Imagine, if you will, an elevator: “Paul Rudd accidentally clones himself.” A can’t-miss proposition, surely? In reality, the show is a quirky dramedy that’s tonally odd and less than compelling.

Rudd stars as Miles Elliot, an advertising copywriter who lives a quiet, ordinary life in the suburbs with his interior decorator wife Kate (Aisling Bea). Miles is run-down, burned out, and discontent, and it’s threatening to ruin his once-idyllic marriage. One day, a co-worker tips him off about an amazing spa that can transform his life, converting him from a disappointed shell of a person into a brand-new, effective version of himself. Depressed and desperate, Miles follows up on this wild solution, which involves forking over a vast sum of a money to mysterious Japanese scientists in a shady stripmall. Something goes wildly wrong, however, and Miles wakes up in a shallow grave in New Jersey, only to find that he’s been replaced by new and improved clone—who has stolen his house, his job, and his wife.

Conceptually, Living with Yourself should be a hilarious vehicle for a comedic actor of Rudd’s caliber, but it’s surprisingly gray and distancing. There are moderately interesting flourishes, like its viewpoint-hopping, iterative structure, and a buried message about being true to yourself, despite your blemishes and frustrations. But this point is difficult to reach due to the dreary pacing and thin world-building, particularly in the show’s weak exploitation of the science fictional premise. For such a short season, it feels woefully low on story. Rudd does well enough interacting with himself in dueling personas, and Bea is a fetching and sympathetic foil. But ultimately this is a show that I soldiered through, rather than savoring.

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